Listen to the music

Allie Lentz dances with her maids two  of honor, during the Hora at her Potomac wedding at the Bolger Center. Photos by David Stuck
Allie Lentz dances with her maids two of honor, during the Hora at her Potomac wedding at the Bolger Center.
Photos by David Stuck

While most brides will admit that music is one of the most important elements to a successful and memorable event, finding the right entertainment is a difficult decision that is often left until the end. Yet, guests will remember a fun reception more than anything else. And a good band or DJ is key to getting guests onto the dance floor and keeping them there.

How do you find top-notch wedding entertainment? First, you have to ask yourself three important questions:

1. How large is the wedding party and how many guests have been invited? This will determine the number of performers and type of entertainment that can be selected without overpowering the venue or not being heard at all.

2. What are the budget parameters? Good ceremony musicians, bands and DJs are often less expensive than you might think. But budget will again determine the number of performers and type of entertainers that can be selected without sacrificing quality.

3. Are there any style or theme preferences? Music provides a perfect opportunity to express a couple’s unique identity. Tie your selection in with the look/feel of the wedding and choose music that your family and friends will enjoy.

Now that you’ve asked yourself these questions and narrowed down your options, it’s time to start selecting your entertainers. Look for people who have been in business for several years and who specialize in the wedding circuit. They will have the professionalism and expertise to direct the flow of your reception, so that you can actually enjoy the event, rather than stress over various details.

Also, focus on entertainers with tons of positive online reviews. Hundreds of satisfied brides and grooms cannot all be wrong. And if you can afford it, there’s no substitute for hiring live music instead of a DJ. Nothing gets guests out on the floor better than a talented dance band. Not to mention, it looks so much better in all your photos/videos. Just imagine everyone dancing the Hora to live music, and you’ll get the idea.

Successful wedding bands know all the most requested songs in a wide variety of styles and provide an exciting, dynamic experience by responding to the crowd’s energy, extending songs to keep dancers on the floor while creating the impact and immediacy of live music.

But the best bands will fully customize the experience, providing options on the number of musicians, saving you money in the process. Just make sure they have experience with Jewish weddings. Also, to avoid ‘bait-and-switch’ tactics, overhead expense, and commissions/mark-ups, always
book direct rather than through the entertainment agencies.

In selecting your wedding band, quality of website and demo videos are excellent indicators of what you can expect. In this industry, presentation is key. So make sure whoever you hire is impeccably dressed and provides the impression you want to convey.

But at the same time, avoid fake videos that were obviously produced in a studio setting, often with overdubbed vocals or lip-synching. Look for those with actual performance footage and audience interaction. Nobody likes a cheesy wedding band, so strong vocals are very important. Also, experienced bands are able to read the crowd and take requests.

Often, the difference between a reasonably priced but expert wedding band vs. a good DJ is merely an extra few hundred dollars or less. But the difference in results is immeasurable. Unforgettable weddings are all about creating once-in-a-lifetime experiences, so entertainment is definitely not an area for cutting corners. Some of the better bands also accept credit cards, and as an added bonus, you can use those frequent flier miles when planning for your honeymoon.

Always be sure to choose an established band with good organization, including backup equipment and substitute personnel in the unlikely event that something goes wrong. They should also have a dedicated manager who’s responsive, easy to work with and accommodating to your needs.

So go ahead, book that fabulous wedding band, and start making those special memories to last forever.

William Goldman has been involved with the local music industry and weddings for the past 25 years as a performer, recording artist, music producer, event planner, business consultant and manager.

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